The December issue of my alumni journal included the University of Manitoba’s statement of apology for its supposed role in the Indian residential school system. Some excerpts [subtext in brackets added]:
The University of Manitoba wishes to take a leadership role in helping expose the national shame of the Indian Residential Schools system and the consequences of such a system. [The back of the line is over there.]
... For over 130 years, the University of Manitoba has worked to create, preserve and communicate knowledge. Moreover, our academic institution has a long history of encouraging debate, building excellence and fostering innovation. [Admittedly, back in the day, the residential schools and assimilation innovations were all the rage in academia].
... it is clear that we did not live up to our goals, our ideals, our hard-earned reputation or our mandate. [Even though our predecessors’ goals and ideals included residential schools.]
... That was a grave mistake [with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and currently fashionable political correctness]. It is our responsibility [No it isn’t]. We are sorry. [Boo hoo!]
...Instead of being positive influences on Aboriginal peoples, education and religion became tools of assimilation, thus undermining the rich diversities of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures, communities and families. [If only our crude and ignorant ancestors had known better.]
... Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized ... The next day, then Manitoba Premier Gary Doer ... and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson ... Churches that operated schools – Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United – have also issued statements of apology and reconciliation.
[And we thought: “We’ll look really bad if we don’t climb on this bandwagon!”. And so,]
... Today the University of Manitoba adds our voice to the apologies ...There's something weird and unseemly about people who had little or no role apologizing for the decisions and actions of well intentioned predecessors who operated under different assumptions and knowledge. I wonder if they give any thought at all to the possibility that what they are doing today their distant future successors might feel obliged to apologize for - eg: suppression of free speech on campus; rampant political correctness, and; the indoctrination of students in highly dubious theories of multiculturalism, radical feminism and postmodernism (and that's the short list)? I think not.
... We apologize to our students.
... We apologize to our Indigenous faculty and staff.
... We apologize to First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders and Elders. ...
[We, the uninvolved, apologize to everyone.]
[There, that feels much better!!]
David T. Barnard,
President and Vice-Chancellor